• Home
  • Football
  • Seven Players Who Returned To Their Former Clubs Ronaldo, Drogba, Rooney...

Seven players who returned to their former clubs - Ronaldo, Drogba, Rooney...

They say never go back, but these seven world-class stars did just that. With Adama Traore on his way back to Camp Nou, Planet Sport looks at how it turned out for them.

We all like home comforts and familiar surroundings, and despite their enormous fame, the world's top footballers are no exception.
Although the billions spent every year on the global transfer market mean there is little room for sentimentality, just occasionally some does creep in.
With that in mind, it's not all that uncommon to see footballers head back to former clubs, even at the very top of the game.

And as Adama Traore heads back to Barcelona, Planet Sport recounts six prodigal sons who returned to their previous stomping grounds.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Having left Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2009 in what was at that point the most expensive transfer deal ever seen, Ronaldo unexpectedly came back to Old Trafford last summer. His first spell in Manchester, which lasted six seasons, saw him notch 118 goals in 292 appearances, and that was enough by the time of his departure to cement his position as a 24-year-old who would go on to be a true great of the game.

In the ensuing 12 years, he bagged another 551 club goals across 572 appearances, first for Real and then for Juventus, alongside 76 competitive international goals for Portugal. He left the Red Devils having won nine club trophies and eight individual awards, but by the time he returned over a decade later, that had increased to 29 club trophies, 21 individual awards, and just to cap it off, two international trophies as well.

Even at the age of 36, his return has not put a dampener on his goalscoring form, which is still as strong as ever. Although the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and subsequent appointment of Ralf Rangnick was only the second time in his career he had to contend with a mid-season managerial replacement, after the 2015/16 season at Real, he has still managed to net 14 times in 24 games since returning.

David Luiz

Much like Ronaldo, Brazilian defender Luiz's return to Chelsea in 2016, after two years at Paris Saint-Germain, came rather out of the blue. He initially moved to Stamford Bridge in 2011 and his first spell comprised four seasons, in which he made 143 appearances and won three trophies, including the Champions League in 2012.
His performances in Chelsea blue were enough to convince French champions PSG to fork out a then-world-record fee for a defender. Despite internet mockery of the £40million price after he turned in a nightmare showing in his nation's 7-1 World Cup thrashing by Germany in 2014, Luiz would go on to play 89 times for the Parisians, winning seven trophies.
Deadline day in August 2016 then brought about a shock return to west London for Luiz, as PSG made a small loss on him. He would make a further 105 appearances for the Blues, winning another three trophies, which this time included the Premier League, before moving on again in 2019, this time to London rivals Arsenal. He now plays for Flamengo in his homeland.

Didier Drogba

Chelsea's fourth-highest goalscorer of all time is another who made a sensational return to the Bridge after two seasons away, although unlike Luiz, his comeback did not require the Blues to shell out any money. Having arrived from Marseille in 2004, Drogba established himself as a Chelsea legend over the course of his first spell, which lasted eight seasons and saw him hit 157 goals in 341 games alongside winning 12 trophies.
He left on the ultimate high, fresh from netting the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich to win the club that trophy for the first time, and transferred to China to play for Shanghai Shenhua. He then acrimoniously moved back to Europe to spend 18 months at Galatasaray, before returning to Chelsea ten years after his first spell began.
"Everyone knows the special relationship I have with this club and it has always felt like home to me," he said upon arriving back at Stamford Bridge. His second stint was not quite as successful as his first, scoring only seven goals in 40 games, but he did win the Premier League before departing again, this time to Montreal Impact of MLS. He finally called time on a glittering career in 2018.

Gianluigi Buffon

From a legendary striker, we come to a legendary goalkeeper in the form of Italian stopper Buffon, who returned to not one, but two of his former clubs. in fact, his career follows a perfect palindrome, reading the same backwards as it does forwards.
He began at Parma in 1995, making 220 appearances over six seasons, before heading north to join Juventus, where he remained for a colossal 17 years, playing 656 times.
His only time outside of Italy was a solitary season at Paris Saint-Germain in 2018/19, after which he moved back to the Old Lady for another two years. Throughout his career, he has also amassed 176 caps for Italy, and holds the all-time appearance record for both Serie A and the Italy national team. In addition, he has received 70 (seven-zero!) individual honours and won 27 club trophies, alongside the 2006 World Cup with Italy.
At the age of 43, Buffon moved back to his boyhood club Parma at the beginning of the 2021/22 season, and a whole 26 years and 274 days since commencing a stunning career, he made his second debut for the Crusaders, where he remains.

Mats Hummels

Experienced German centre-back Hummels is currently at Borussia Dortmund, whom he rejoined in 2019 after spending three seasons with their rivals Bayern Munich. However, he had originally been at Bayern before his first spell at Dortmund, meaning that, much like Buffon, he has also returned to not one, but two former clubs…which also happen to be the only two clubs he has ever played for. With me so far?
A native of Bergisch Gladbach on the outskirts of Cologne, Hummels emerged from Bayern's youth system. His time in Bavaria was mostly spent in the club's reserve side, although he did make two appearances for the first team.
In 2008, he was loaned to Dortmund before moving permanently a year later. He enjoyed a successful spell that totalled nine seasons, in which he made 309 appearances, scoring a surprisingly high 25 goals and winning seven trophies.
Still only 28, he then headed back to Munich, making a further 116 appearances and winning seven more trophies before Dortmund again snatched him back in June 2019. He remains a key part of the Black and Yellows' squad this season.

Paul Pogba

When you lose something and are then forced to shell out a world-record price to be reunited with it, it probably dawns on you that you should definitely have never let it go. That was almost certainly the case for Manchester United, who brought former youth prospect Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus in 2016 for £89million.
The Frenchman completed his final footballing education in the club's academy system after arriving from Le Havre as a 16-year-old in 2009, graduating into the first team in September 2011.
However, he would make just six more appearances for United and in June 2012 moved to Juventus following the expiration of his contract.
A fruitful four seasons in Italy followed, in which he made 178 appearances, scoring 34 goals, and also won four back-to-back Serie A titles.
Those performances were enough to convince United to shell out many millions of pounds for him and he returned to Manchester in August 2016 at the beginning of the Jose Mourinho era.
The 28-year-old remains a Manchester United player, now in the sixth season of his second spell at the club, with 212 appearances and 38 goals under his belt. He is also a regular in the French national side, having played 89 matches and scored 11 goals since making his debut in 2013.

Wayne Rooney

Despite etching his name into the footballing annals with his exploits in Manchester, the England national team's all-time leading goalscorer is, as anyone who has heard his voice knows, very Scouse indeed.
Croxteth-born Rooney started his career at Everton in 2002 after emerging from the club's youth system, and he made 77 appearances in two seasons before being snapped up by United.
His time at Old Trafford brought global fame and glory, as over 13 seasons, he scored 253 goals in 559 games and won 16 trophies, including the Premier League five times and the Champions League once. However, he retained a place in his heart for his boyhood club and, in 2017, departed as a United legend and headed back west to rejoin the Toffees.
He did only spend one further season in Everton blue, but still netted 11 goals in 40 appearances before departing even further west to sign for MLS outfit DC United.
He then took on a player-coach role at Derby County before graduating to become the Rams' full-time manager and formally retiring from playing in January 2021.

READ MORE: Wayne Rooney admits he turned down the Everton job in favour of sticking with Derby County

More Articles